WWF Launches Upgrades To Water Risk Assessment Tool

EDINBURGH, Scotland

WWF, the world’s largest conservation group has announced an upgraded version 5.0 of the “Water Risk Filter”, a leading online tool developed with the German Development Finance Institution (DEG), which empowers users to explore, assess, value and respond to corporate water risks.

The Water Risk Filter uses 32 annually-updated, peer reviewed data layers along with a site-based operational risk questionnaire to enable users to understand and prioritize water risks and specific sites. Designed to be easy to use by non-water experts, it is the only water risk tool to assess both basin and operational risks. Drawing on site-specific water risk data, including over 10M km2 of high resolution data, the tool can also guide users towards contextually appropriate mitigation response actions.

Ariane Laporte-Bisquit, the Water Risk Filter Project Manager, demonstrated new functionalities, features and benefits of the upgraded version 5.0 to attendees of The Alliance for Water Stewardship’s (AWS) annual Global Water Stewardship Forum in Edinburgh, Scotland October 31.

Laporte-Bisquit is responsible for overseeing the ongoing evolution and implementation of the Water Risk Filter strategy. She leads on the engagement with investor and corporate users of the tool in collaboration with the wider WWF network. She described key new features of the Water Risk Filter, including a new look and interface; upgraded data structure and indicators; new local high-resolution data as well as a new “response section” and a new valuation section which will go live soon. Users can now explore maps, country profiles, WWF stories, reports and more without needing to login and have improved assessment capacity – to get to know the water related risks their organization's assets are facing through customized assessment and analysis that can highlight hot spots.

In blogs about the Water Risk Filter, Laporte-Bisquit has deployed the expression “canary in a coal mine”, in which miners used nature (birds) to signal risks (air quality) which she describes as being "as relevant today as it was when the term was coined two centuries ago. Water is the lifeblood of our global economy, as virtually every business sector relies on water to irrigate, cool, clean or as an ingredient…the “water canary” is telling us we’re in trouble”.

“We have learned a lot over the course of the past six years (since the 2012 launch of Water Risk Filter), not only through seeing how thousands of users employ the tool, but also through engagement with companies and in the field…Many companies that we work with, for example Edeka, Marks and Spencers, and Nestle, have used the Water Risk Filter at the corporate level, but have also taken advantage of the tool at the local level, as they’ve sought to implement the Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS) standard in their supply chains and operations. Assessing water risk needs to be rooted in cutting edge data, but easy, fast and layered…The quality of water data is ever improving.

“While WWF has annually updated data since 2012, version 5.0 significantly expands the scope and quality of the data we harness to better guide companies and sites. Those leading companies and facilities…wanted more information on future projections, on reputational risk, and to understand how data sets on scarcity differed, so we’ve obliged! We’ve not only expanded from 20 to 32 basin risk indicators, but we’ve worked with new partners…to add unique data sets”.

“The upgraded Water Risk Filter has integrated multiple state-of-the-art, robust and peer reviewed global models in order to encourage users to interpret water risks under different lenses. Since many global water data sets are modelled, we have sought to draw upon multiple models — in the same way that the IPCC looks to multiple models. For example, we now offer three different takes on water scarcity alone.

Furthermore, a global versus local perspective is also necessary so we were keen to expand the number of local data sets…In short, not only can the Water Risk Filter support global corporate water stewardship, but it can also support local, site-based water stewardship, which makes it an invaluable tool to support AWS members and AWS Standard implementers”. 

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